Gawker Media senior writer calls for boycott of US military because of Trump

Hamilton Nolan., a former senior writer for Gawker, is a writer for DeadSpin and various other publications. Gawker shut down after it filed for bankruptcy as a direct result of the monetary judgment against the company related to the Hulk Hogan sex tape lawsuit.

A senior writer at Gawker thinks people should think twice before joining the military, claiming that serving under President Trump is counter to what a “good patriot” would do.

Hamilton Nolan- a Gizmodo Media Group employee who writes on a variety of subjects from fitness to news- penned an op-ed on Deadspin’s The Concourse, bluntly titled “Don’t Join The Military.”

“We all know that pacifists, socialists, and flag-burners would advise you never to join the U.S. military, ever,” Nolan began. “Forget that for a moment. Even if you consider yourself a good patriot, do not join the U.S. military now.”

Nolan argues that by joining the military in this day and age, one puts themselves at higher risk than ever before due to the times we live in- a world that has Donald J. Trump as the President of the United States.

“By joining the military, you place yourself at the service of the U.S. president,” he said. “That’s the deal. You agree that, if ordered, you will go out and kill people you have never met, and risk being killed yourself. You do not get a say in these decisions. You do not get to examine the facts and decide whether the violence you are being asked to perpetrate or support is right or wrong.”

Nolan then goes on to speak about his insecurities regarding the president -some unfounded, others, not so much- repeatedly imploring all of his readers to abandon their ambitions of military service, as if joining the military gives you a non-refundable front row seat ticket to the next My Lai massacre.

Since I’m retired from the service, I now have the luxury of being able to speak my mind a little more openly than my battle brethren who are still putting the uniform on every morning, often well before I’m even considering getting out of bed.

That said, Nolan’s rant comes across as a sophomoric appeal to one’s sensibilities based on infantile prejudices, which in turn are far overblown in the first month of a US president, or in the term of any president to date.

If that sounds harsh, let me put it all on the table for you- in the years I served in the US Army (including the time I spent in combat), I didn’t like a single president I served under. Not one.

Now I won’t get into my politics, but having grown within a hybridization of life in the American South and life in places like the United Kingdom and China, I developed a special disdain for authoritarianism (be it left-wing or right-wing in delivery) and wanton conflict-making. When the Iraq War kicked off, I was even against it to a certain degree and quite vocal in how I felt it was mishandled. However, when the time came to serve, I went.

Why would someone serve in a military -particularly a job specialty such as the infantry- when they don’t agree with the war, let alone the president? Simply put, it was because I wanted to and felt compelled to do so due to the culture in which I was raised. Having had plenty of time to consider career choices, education or military service, I chose the latter because I knew that -unlike the Chinese People’s Liberation Army I watched march and train as a teenager- the US military is not the armed branch of a political party. Unlike the Chinese army, the United States Armed Forces are the federal armed forces of the United States- the armed wing of the American people.

As an armed force of the American people, we are sworn to -first and foremost- “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”. It is only after that utterance of sworn duty that (the enlisted, anyway) swear to obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. National Guard troops swear an oath to both the US Constitution and their state, making them the most “original intent” kind of troops that the Founding Fathers had originally envisioned (having been quite distrusting of kings and standing armies).

While that may seem rather daunting to think that one swears an oath to obey a person they may not agree with, the US service member has the option -more an obligation– to disobey or refuse to comply with an order that is unlawful, be it from their platoon leader or the president himself. You might be subject to an inquiry (in which you better hope you were right), you may face legal trouble -heck, you might even be found guilty, go to prison for a bit, demand a sex change and get your sentence commuted– but you can still say “no.”

When I raised my right hand, it was not because I was wanting to further the agenda of a specific American political party. During my service, I broke bread and shared ammo with libertarians, neo-conservatives, socialists, progressives and apathetic folks who dreamed of anarchy. The military is fairly all-inclusive, becoming more so every day in the face of an increasingly-polarizing society outside its guarded gates, staffed by bored gate guards of all races, religions, persuasions and political affiliations.

Joining the military is not something one does because they demand a calling that is catered solely to their needs- it is about becoming a part of something much bigger than one’s self.

When you raise your right hand, you give up a lot of what society has convinced you that you are. You are forced to remove yourself from your echo chambers and comfort zone as screaming men and women in uniform shuffle you off a bus into a veritable Ellis Island of people who you would otherwise never have associated with. People you may have previously held disdain for become your best friends. The ideologies of the outside world become less black and white than they appear to your (firmly-entrenched) civilian counterparts.

As for politics? What Nolan failed to take note of is that politicians are like bad officers. Love them or hate them, you’re stuck with them. This president could lead us into another war, just like his opponent could have done the same.  A battalion commander could be a puffy-chested poltroon who freezes up during a medal hunt-turned ambush or he could be a keen strategist who values the lives of his troops under any conditions. You don’t know until it happens and no matter what you get, you’re going to make it because you have your people -the same ones who you would never have given a second thought before enlisting- to help you through this, even if it means risking their careers by helping you shove that commander in a back seat and taking over until you can get them out of that ambush. Such a bond transcends politics, personal ideals and racial prejudices.

Politics are the actions of politicians, who in turn are human beings that -by nature- are unpredictable. When you join the military, you are -above all- the defender of the very Constitution that makes our great Republic a truly exceptional nation among nations. That is the greatest of responsibilities- perhaps the greatest responsibility in the world. Such duty supersedes the orders of one scary man who happens to be your boss. The American military -despite clichéd media portrayals that suggest otherwise- is not a force of mindless drones who obey orders.

Still, if the idea of having a boss you don’t like bothers you the way it bothers Hamilton Nolan, you probably shouldn’t leave the house, let alone join the military. Because if something like that bothers you that much, the military probably doesn’t want you, either.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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